Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, June 15.
On balance, yesterday’s best game was a clear winner-the Giants’ 6–3 win over the Marlins in 16 innings. Two things spoiled any happiness the Giants might have felt. First, Evan Longoria suffered a broken hand after being hit by a pitch. And second, the game happened on “Getaway Day.”
“Getaway Day” is a baseball fact that you don’t know about while you’re dreaming of playing (or broadcasting) baseball. Before my voice broke I could do a reasonable impression of Phil Rizzuto, and as we would play wiffleball I’d do my Rizzuto with a “Holy Cow” every few seconds. Rizzuto made a pile as a broadcaster because his voice never broke. He didn’t mention “getaway day” on his broadcast and neither did the other Hall of Famers I was listening to. When Jim Lucas and I broke in as minor leaguers we mentioned it in order to give the fans back home an idea what happened on the final day in one town as we prepared to either travel elsewhere or go home.
Getaway day is nobody’s friend. It’s worse in the minors where almost all games are played at night. On getaway day you have to leave your motel room at 11 AM or Noon. Since I had to prepare for an upcoming broadcast we asked to be allowed to stay a few extra hours. Sometimes we could, sometimes not.
If we were rebuffed I would have to braille my daily stats in a lobby with 25 ballplayers milling around with nothing to do. Imagine trying to work out difficult equations in a particularly noisy and disordered zoo.
In the majors where the players have a union, many getaway day games are just that-day games so one or both teams can go elsewhere. Such was the case in Miami yesterday. The game started very early to allow the Giants to head for Los Angeles ASAP. The Marlins also had travel plans-they were bound for Baltimore once the game was done.
The Giants had more than the usual wish to leave Miami. They’d been ahead in the first 3 games against the woeful Marlins but had lost them all. They were ahead 3-0 as early as the second inning. The real disaster came in the 4th inning. Marlins’ starter Dan Straily fired a fastball at 88 MPH. If it had been hit, it would have been called a “Batting practice fastball” particularly in these days of 100-mph heaters. In fact, two of Straily’s slow fastballs were crushed, one by Andrew McCutchen for two runs in the first inning and one by Mac Williamson an inning later. Unfortunately, a pitch at 88 MPH slamming into a human hand does ugly damage, which it did to Evan Longoria. It isn’t known if his fracture will need surgery to repair the damage. It’s a fracture of the fifth metacarpal, the same thing that kept Madison Bumgarner out at the start of this season. Coming off a season where they were one of baseball’s worst teams, the Giants have few weapons as they try to rebound. Longoria was one of their better players. He was leading their offense with 34 RBI and second on the team with 10 home runs.
In spite of the injury The Giants nearly made a clean getaway and starting pitcher Derek Rodriguez almost won the game with his dad Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez in the stands. If all that happened their flight to Los Angeles would seem shorter than it actually is. Then, like the critical plot twist in a movie, things suddenly went very wrong. The Giants were ahead 3-2 in the 9th when Joe Panic committed a two-base error off the bat of Starlin Castro. He took third on a bunt, after which Lewis Brinson hit a scoring fly ball tying the game at 3 and charging Hunter Strickland with a blown save. There the score stayed through the 15th. The Marlins’ last pitcher, Eieser Hernandez took the hill in the 12th and finally crumbled in the 16th. With the bases full, Pablo Sandoval-the man Giants fans once christened Panda-singled home two runs. This was followed by a scoring fly ball off the bat of Gorkys Hernandez. The Giants’ Ty Blach was their bull pen hero, tossing 6.2 innings in extra innings. From here, the Marlins, 26–43 face a team with a worse record than theirs, the Orioles who are 19 up and 48 down.
When the Yankees host the Rays tonight, an old friend will become their foe. The Rays’ starter is former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi. He had his first Tommy John surgery as a high school boy, then his second in late 2016 while he was a Yankee. His contract ran out before he could throw another pitch in pinstripes. The Yankees knew how slim were the chances of a man pitching well after two of these procedures, so Eovaldi was released. The Rays rolled the dice. Up to now Eovaldi is 0–2 in their colors. With Masahiro Tanaka injured, the Yankees start an unknown, Jonathan Loaisiga. He’s a Nicaraguan boy of 23 making his debut. He already has shown the courage of his fellow Nicaraguan, the great fighter Alexis Arguello. He has fought through one injury after another including Tommy John surgery. He has risen very quickly through the Yankee minor leagues to get where he will be tonight. The Indians send out 10-game winner Corey Kluber when they host the Twins. The Rangers will start Yohander Mendez at home against the Rockies. Mendez has made just one relief outing of 2/3 of an inning before his first MLB start. Coming into tonight’s game in St. Louis, both Cubs’ starter John Lester and the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha have been in top form. It seems Lester has been pitching forever and is still very effective. The rest of MLB has a full slate laid on for tonight.